‘The Resident’ 2×11 Review: “Operator Error”

The latest episode of The Resident, titled “Operator Error,” explores what went wrong when a new heart valve AJ inserted for former Chastain surgical resident, turned medical device marketing consultant Bradley Jenkins, fails and causes his death.

Was it “Operator Error,” as Quovadis claims? Was it the fact the Bradley had existing heart disease, or was it Quovadis’ fault for supplying a faulty heart valve? That’s what the crew jumps in to find out this week when Bradley dies after suffering a heart attack at only 32 years old.

Because of this incident, AJ has benched himself because he believes he is the cause of Bradley’s death, but Mina is having none of it by the end of the episode. When she talks to Gordon Page, she is left considering that it could actually have been AJ’s fault – noting that the surgery wasn’t perfect as AJ says it was. However, by episode’s end Mina is mad Bell didn’t do enough to protect AJ.  So, she vows to find the real cause. When Mina says something like that, watch out.

It causes AJ to start a journey towards humbling himself to realizing he may have made a mistake after discussing the situation with his mentor, Dr. Benedict. It’s not an easy pill for AJ to swallow. His ego and god complex have always been his only weaknesses. I see this as a journey to character development for AJ. A little humility goes a long way.

Bell comes to AJ’s defense, believe it or not. After his confrontation with Mina, he even tells the pulmonologist to say Bradley died from heart disease. But, is that really the case? The episode leaves the real findings of the case open ended for interpretation.

The end of the episode is a toast to Bradley’s life. Conrad, Nic, Devon, and Mina gather around a Hawaiian pizza and toast to their friend. Now, you may ask why this is the case, but Devon says Bradley loved it and that it tasted like a vacation to him. It’s their way of honoring Bradley. Enough said.

RIP Bradley. I raise a slice of Hawaiian pizza to you. You are missed. He was one of my favorite recurring characters. I hope the real reason of Bradley’s death is uncovered soon, and that for AJ’s sake it wasn’t “Operator Error”.

Other items in this episode:

  • Things get more complicated when Alec finds out Nic and Conrad are together – and Alec thinks that Conrad is with Henry’s mom, Zoey.
  • Chastain’s free clinic opens to the public – and because of that – Nic and Alec help an elderly man avoid a trip to the ER, and along the way help him bond with his granddaughter.
  • Devon helps a woman save her last working ovary – but not before realizing she had a surgical sponge left inside her after she had a C-section.
  • Henry shows off his shiny MVP baseball trophy to Conrad and Nic – but only after he has testing done for ticks he’s developed after surgery to insert a VNS device for his seizures.

It’s an emotional episode that leaves you in a puddle of tears, crying for Bradley. Crying for justice, and hoping it wasn’t AJ’s fault. Also, are they really going there with these potential love triangles? I thought we talked about this.

A Toast to Bradley Jenkins – and AJ’s Path to Humility

As I noted above, a majority of the episode focuses on Bradley’s death and the repercussions of it. It’s a testament to how much Devon, Conrad, Nic, Mina, AJ, and even Bell care about Bradley. At one point he was their colleague, but he was also their friend. When you spend so much time with someone, a friendship is bound to form.

The episode opens with Devon helping Bradley fix a technical issue with his presentation for Quovadis. Turns out, all Bradley needed was a new HDMI cable, and luckily Devon had a spare. Off Bradley goes with a promise to celebrate landing Quovadis as a client with beer and some video games. Little did he know, that was the last time Devon would see Bradley alive.

It shows how fleeting life can be. You never know what the next moment will be. One moment Bradley was laughing and smiling with Devon and planning to celebrate a career accomplishment, the next he’s dead. Dead because of what? The episode leaves that open to interpretation.

Was it AJ’s fault? Did AJ, due to his ego and god complex, not listen to Julian and Mina in the OR when he was inserting the valve? As you may recall, in “The Germ” Bradley came in to get AJ to replace a heart valve. He already had one heart surgery at this point, in “Rude Awakenings and the Raptor”, after he fell through a skylight onto Bell’s boardroom table. It’s a surgery that revealed Bradley had heart disease.

So, was it the moment depicted above from “The Germ” that eventually cost Bradley his life? Or was it something else? Was that something heart disease? They already knew he had it. Or, was it a faulty heart valve? Julian mentioned the Quovadis heart valves have an issue in “The Dance”. Quovadis denies that the valves are unsafe and place sole blame on AJ. Bell and Mina want to defend AJ, both for different reasons.

My personal opinion is that it may be a mix of all of the above. That Bradley still had heart disease, new valve or not. That the Quovadis heart valve was, in fact, defective. That, sadly, some blame may have come when AJ tried to force the new valve into Bradley’s heart backwards, stating that it was too big for him, when really it was his own ego and god complex blocking his ability to listen to Julian, who knew what she was talking about, and Mina, who has always had a good head on her shoulders to help take AJ down a bit.

AJ lashes out in anger at first, to the point breaking one of the lights in the OR, when Mina tells him what happened to Bradley. He goes to confront Bell and Page and realizes his surgery report wasn’t as transparent as he believed it to be thanks to Julian’s thorough notes of the events that took place in the OR that day.

So, with that being said, AJ benches himself from the OR. Stating that the OR is sacred and that he doesn’t belong there. It also takes a conversation with his mentor to realize that he needs to work on his ego. That he has a massive god complex that prevents him to listening to others around him. Others, who may know more than he does about certain topics.

“You know, you were right, all along. My ego.” 

“Well, of course I was right. It seems like you already learned your lesson. So, be better. Come back. Take your place inside the OR.”

“The OR is a sacred place, and I blasphemed it. I don’t have a place there. Not now, and I will not put another life in jeopardy until I learn humility. Blessed are the meek.”

– AJ & Mina

So, with AJ on the path to humility because of the events he may have inadvertently caused. It looks like AJ is starting down the path to character development. I doubt he will be rid of his huge ego, but I believe he has learned a thing or two from Bradley’s death about reigning it in and listening to those around him. If that’s not character development, then what is?

Also, what would AJ Austin be without his ego? I don’t want to find out because this is the part of his character that actually has endeared him to me. As, Malcolm-Jamal Warner once put it, “I get to play the person I don’t allow myself to be in real life.” Now, will we see this stick down the line? How long will AJ bench himself from the OR?

How many more Quovadis devices will kill people before they are deemed unsafe? Because I do believe Quovadis has some blame in Bradley’s death. A death that was unneeded, and when Conrad and Devon couldn’t find his pulse in the ER, I was bawling my eyeballs out. This episode needs tissues to get through, that I can promise you.

So, here’s to you, Bradley Jenkins. I raise you a slice to Hawaiian pizza. RIP.

Things Get Complicated

When Conrad, Henry, and Zoey show up at the free clinic at the end of the episode to let Henry show Nic his MVP trophy, Alec learns new details about Nic that make things more complicated, at least for him. Up to this point, Alec had no clue Nic had a boyfriend, even though he met Conrad briefly in “After the Fall”. He takes it as his cue to leave for the night.

However, when Zoey reveals to Alec that Conrad is Henry’s doctor, and has now become a family friend, there is a moment there between Conrad and Zoey that makes you wonder if she likes the idea that Conrad really only is a friend and the doctor of her son. I know that Conrad has a connection to this family.

He’s witnessed them go through unimaginable loss and helped them through it. He’s helped Henry through brain surgery. It’s only fitting for them to have a connection, but for Zoey is there more than just friendship? She knows Conrad and Nic are happy together. I doubt she would willingly come between them. However, it begs the question of why the little part of that scene even exists.

Before Alec knew Conrad was Nic’s boyfriend, he actually asked Nic out to dinner. Before Nic could answer, Conrad, Henry and Zoey walk in. Just in time.

So, things get infinitely more complicated. I’ve mentioned that there is potential for this Conrad, Nic, Alec love triangle – and this episode does not sway me on that. However, now there’s also hints from Zoey that she may like Conrad more than a friend. I don’t blame her at all. He’s bloody gorgeous. However, there is more potential for Alec to come between Conrad and Nic, than for it to be Zoey.

As, the gif puts it – they’re together. As in Conrad and Nic are together, and they NEED to stay that way. My shipper heart begs you, writers. Please stop this potential love triangle madness, NOW.

Henry’s VNS Device

Evan Whitten as Henry Barnett in “Operator Error”.

When Henry and Zoey visit Conrad to show him Henry’s shiny, new baseball trophy, Conrad witnesses a tick that Henry has developed since his VNS insertion surgery in “Trial and Error”. Zoey says she’s only witnessed it once, but Conrad wants to make sure Henry isn’t having a seizure.

Henry swears he’s not, as it didn’t feel like one. From my personal experience with epilepsy, the person having the seizure doesn’t ever really know they are having one. There are early warning signs, yes, but in my own experience I’ve never remembered having a seizure. I love that they have a kid on this show who has epilepsy, however, it’s not being shown properly. Take it from someone who’s lived through it. I do get dramatization, but dramatize it properly. All I ask.

Conrad does confirm that Henry is not having a seizure and that he has normal brain activity. So, that begs the question. Where is this tick coming from? My best bet is the VNS device. I hated that they put this thing in an 8 year old boy, but now he’s experiencing ticks from it. Mark my words, Henry will have more issues from this later this season. I know both Evan Whitten, who plays Henry, and Daniella Alonso, who plays Zoey, are in more episodes later on in the season. It only makes sense for the writers to go there.

Please don’t let Henry be another casualty of Quovadis. Zoey’s lost one child. Don’t let her lose her other one.

During this scene, Zoey asks Conrad about Nic and he notes she’s been busy with the free clinic and that he’s extremely proud of the work she’s put into it.

The Free Clinic Opens Its Doors

THE RESIDENT: L-R: Guest star Miles Gaston Villanueva, Emily VanCamp and guest star Dan Martin in the “Operator Error” episode of THE RESIDENT airing Monday, Jan. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D’Alema/FOX.

The work on the free clinic begins to pay off for Nic and Alec, and they FINALLY open the doors to the public. It becomes a hit for the Atlanta area. It helps those who can’t afford health insurance or aren’t insured enough. Such as the case with the patient in “Operator Error”.

Enter Floyd Washington and his granddaughter, Aubrey. Floyd is a former smoker, who quit cold turkey when Aubrey moved in with him after the death of his daughter. He’s also a Vietnam vet. He’s seeking help, per Aubrey’s request for his cough. He thinks it’s from smoking.

However, Alec and Nic uncover that Floyd has Peripheral Vascular Disease and needs his wounds cared for before he loses his leg. Alec insists upon admitting Floyd to the hospital, but Nic fights him on it. The reason why? Nic thinks Aubrey is the perfect caretaker for Floyd, she just needs to learn how to bandage her grandfather’s wounds. Nic notes that if Aubrey can do it, it will save Floyd a lot of money.

Alec is concerned because Aubrey is shy and quiet. To him, she’s acting like she’s under the influence. Nic disagrees, and eventually reveals to Alec about Jessie. That she knows what an addict looks like and this girl is not one. Turns out, Nic was right. Nic teaches Aubrey to bandage and pack her grandfather’s wounds, and along the way, Aubrey and Floyd end up bonding for the first time in a long time.

This experience endears Alec to Nic a little bit more and it is even what prompts him to ask her to dinner, thankfully it was interrupted by Conrad arriving with Zoey and Henry.

I found the scenes with Nic and Aubrey endearing. They’ve both lost their moms at a young age and it helped Nic bond with Aubrey. It helped her encourage Aubrey to help her grandfather. I really loved Aubrey and Floyd in this episode.

Devon’s Saving Grace

THE RESIDENT: L-R: Matt Czuchry, guest star Melissa DuPrey and Manish Dayal in the “Operator Error” episode of THE RESIDENT airing Monday, Jan. 21 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2018 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Guy D’Alema/FOX.

In this episode, Devon spends his time helping Marisol, a woman who has lost a child after giving birth by C-section. Since the C-Section, she has had nothing but pain. The pain has caused her to lose her marriage and she has had trouble advocating for herself to her doctors. She has also lost her right ovary from an ectopic pregnancy. She wants to have another baby, but she’s in so much pain that she just wants relief.

She knows the pain she’s in is real. A lot doctors have told her she’s making it up by the time Devon gets to her case. Devon believes her, which is good news for Marisol.

Along the way, after a few non-invasive tests are ran, Devon and team discover that there is no blood flow to Marisol’s left ovary. They open her up fully to discover a twisted ovary and that the surgeon who performed her C-section left a surgical sponge inside her. There it is. The cause for all her pain. A surgical sponge.

As Conrad notes, it’s a rare occurrence, but that it does happen. A Washington Post article from 2014 notes that a study done in 2012 states that out of 3,000 patients, 23 had sponges left inside them for whatever reason. That’s how rare this. 23 out 3,000 patients.

Marisol is greatly relieved and thankful to Devon for believing her and helping her through this ordeal. Conrad is impressed by how Devon handled Marisol’s case and even notes to her:

“It’s all in a day’s work for this guy.” 

And that’s all on top of losing Bradley, which Conrad tells Marisol about at the end of the episode.

Conrad isn’t the only one impressed by Devon in this episode. I am too. Actually, Marisol’s case really hit home for me. I haven’t experienced her case, but definitely felt for her when she was trying to advocate for herself about her pain. I’ve been there. I felt for this woman, and even cried with her after her surgery was a success. What a relief.

How do you leave something like a surgical sponge in someone?

Questions Before the Next Episode

  • What’s with these potential love triangles? STOP. THEM. NOW.
  • Will feeling guilty about Bradley’s death bring a journey to humility for AJ?
  • When Mina goes to defend AJ, as she has vowed to do, how will she handle it?
  • Will Bell stick his neck out further for AJ? Or is he truly Gordon Page’s lap dog?
  • Will Henry’s VNS device fail?
  • Will there be more victims like Bradley?


The Resident airs Mondays at 8/7c on Fox.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your opinions in the comments below!

Currently a writer for The Resident, but I have many interests that include country music, fantasy and science fiction movies. I'm just your typical southern girl who was raised by a single dad. A Chris Wood and Matt Czuchry fangirl forever.